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Thomas’s Wine Corner: Grower-Estate Champagne at the Taphouse

In the dark of winter we need excuses to celebrate, ergo the Holiday Season.  Let’s call it the Champagne Season.

What is a Grower-Champagne, you might ask? In Oregon, we are used to wine producers that own vineyards and often produce multiple estate wines (meaning the wine is made from grapes grown on the producer’s vineyard).  However, this is not the norm in Champagne, or in much of Western Europe.  The largest Champagne producers such as Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, and Moët & Chandon don’t actually have any vineyards, but source their grapes from all over the region.  What makes Grower-Champagnes unique is that the vintners are most intimately involved in the production of their wine.  Laurent Champs, the fifth-generation proprietor of Vilmart & Cie, is involved in the vineyard management, grape harvest, and winemaking.  This allows him to make the best Champagne in the world.

At 16 Tons Taphouse and Bottle Shop (265 E 13th Ave. Eugene, OR) we have some truly unique Grower-Estate Champagnes including:

Vilmart & Cie “Grand Cellier,” Montagne de Reims:  Vilmart & Cie, located in Rilly-la-Montagne has always made champagne exclusively from estate-owned vines.  Vilmart is a member of Ampelos, an organization that promotes organic and sustainable viticulture.  Like all of Vilmart’s cuvées, this wine does not go through malolactic fermentation, which preserves the crisp, fresh, and lively character of the grapes. “Organic viticulture, (truly!) low yields, remarkable polish of fruit, and the deliberate patient pursuit of a vision of perfection make Laurent Champs’ estate a gemstone gleaming among the chalk.” – Terry Theise

70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir.  $72 (Reg. price $77)


A. Margaine “Traditionelle, Demi-Sec,” Montagne de Reims: Villers-Marmery is an anomaly in the Montagne de Reims, an island of Chardonnay in a sea of Pinot Noir.  Arnaud Margaine prefers to make decisions in the cellar based on what he feels the wines need, rather than what was done in the previous year. Margaine has improved the quality of the vineyards by eliminating chemical herbicides and increasing the amount of cover crop in the vines.  Average vine age is 32 years, which is relatively old. The Demi-Sec is head-turningly pretty and fine-boned, with a finish that coats the palate with wisteria and grape-hyacinth.

90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. $42 (reg. price $47)


R.H. Coutier “Tradition Brut” and Brut Rosé: All of Coutier’s Champagne is made from 100% estate fruit from Ambonnay,  one of the largest Grand  Cru villages in Champagne.  Vineyards in Ambonnay face due south, producing a warmer microclimate for the grapes. The Coutiers paractice “lutte raisonnée,” a method of viticulture which encourages biodiversity and soil health. Coutier ploughs and uses no herbicides.

“Tradition Brut”: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. 2006 base vintage, with some reserve from previous vintages. Stainless steel; 100% malolactic fermentation. $40 (reg. price $42). Brut Rosé: 55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir.  100% Organic. All the Pinot Noir in this wine is still wine, which offers signature notes of red fruit and brioche. $34 (reg. price $38).


These are not just good wines at a value, these Champagnes are of unrivaled quality, each offering a unique experience unto itself.  And, like all of our wines, have been intentionally selected by our skilled and knowledgable staff, for that very reason.  You simply will not find a better value in the area.  You may not immediately associate 16 Tons with wine.  But in addition to our beer bottle selection you know and love, we have an equally diverse, eclectic, and affordable collection of wine; each bottle with a story that can be told by our expert stewards of fine alcoholic beverages.  Please consider 16 Tons Beer & Wine as your source for great wines this Season.  And don’t miss our free wine tastings and Wine Happy Hour every Tuesday, 5-7pm at the Taphouse (265 E 13th) and Thursday at the Café (2864 Willamette).



Thomas Bennett-Stroud

Wine Buyer, 16 Tons Beer & Wine




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